Mickey and the Bear
by Annabelle Attanasio
In rural Montana, a scrappy, conscientious teenage girl seeks independence from her controlling father, whom sheâ€™s taken care of since her motherâ€™s death. Upon finding refuge in a worldly stranger, she must decide whether to remain loyal to her father, or to leave him behind to pursue her own life.
Stoic, responsible, and tough as a two-dollar steak, Mickey Peck is an adult woman trapped in the body of a teenage girl. At 12, she lost her mother and immediately inherited the responsibility of taking care of her veteran, addict father. At home, she plays the roles of the dutiful daughter, the attentive mother, and the comforting wife. But on her own, Mickey is precocious, curious, with the mouth of a sailor.
As she begins to escape the confines of her father’s rule, Mickey grows aware of the strength and agency she has as a young woman. Her ‘coming-of-age’ plays out through a burgeoning friendship with an outsider of the town, which makes her realize that she can create a life of her own. This quest for female identity plays a crucial role in Mickey’s journey: from Hank’s little girl, to an autonomous young woman.
Charming, volatile, and wounded, Hank Peck, 42, has lived alone with Mickey since returning from his second tour in Iraq. Six years later, he still suffers from chronic leg pain, a worsening case of PTSD, and the loss of his wife. He self-medicates with alcohol and abuses oxycodone to alleviate pain both physical and emotional. But his outward personality belies his internal pain: Hank lights up every room he enters.
Having lost everyone else, Hank clings to the idea that Mickey will never leave home. She pays the bills on time, makes sure he takes his meds, puts him to bed when he comes home wasted, and most of all, fills the void left by his wife. Despite the fact that he relies on her for everything, Hank treats Mickey like a little girl. They never discuss their imbalanced power dynamic - it is implicit.
Self-possessed, smooth, and intuitive, Wyatt Hughes, 18, is the new kid at Anaconda High School - not to mention the only black kid in a mile radius. Resolved to live life on his own terms, Wyatt left his family in Butte to live with extended relatives in Anaconda. A talented musician with aspirations far beyond the small town, he gains acceptance to the Royal Academy of Music, right around the same time he meets Mickey.
Wyatt gravitates and relates to Mickey for her no-bullshit attitude, her disregard for what others think, and her curiosity about the world. Their relationship is immediately familiar, bred out of deep respect for one another. Ultimately, Wyatt becomes the vessel for Mickey to leave town herself - though their relationship may not last, he knows how desperately Mickey needs a way out of her circumstance, and wants to help by any means.
Anaconda is a small town in Montana of under 9,000 people, a population declining as rapidly as its workforce. Formerly known as the “Copper Town”, Anaconda’s primary source of work was its prominent mining industry. But, in 1980, the Anaconda smelter was shut down, resulting in a decrease in residents and increase in contamination and toxic waste. Now, the majority of the town’s inhabitants are families who have been there for over a century, retired folks, and veterans of various wars.
Veteran Life in Montana
Montana has the second highest percentage of veterans per capita in the US. With a VFW outpost, an American Legion, VA Clinic, and Disabled Veterans chapter, Anaconda has cultivated a strong veteran community. However, Anaconda also appeals to vets who seek a self-governing life, in anonymity. In Hankâ€™s case, living on the outskirts allows him liberation from answering to anyone but himself - he does what he wants, when he wants, how he wants.
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In every family, there comes a point where the child becomes the parent. While this usually happens later in life, my familial identity changed much sooner. As the eldest child in a turbulent household, my adolescent self felt obligated to parent my parents - I mediated, I set boundaries, I acted as a caretaker. In my mind, It was my responsibility to fix their problems; but, this compulsion soon became a desperate effort to hold onto the shards of a very broken marriage. Even when I tried to detach from their dysfunction, the feeling of crippling guilt had me coming back for more. Only in leaving home did I come to think of myself as an autonomous being; more than just their daughter. Mickey is in a similar position as the woman in her family – fulfilling roles of mother, wife and daughter – except in her case, she is obligated to act as caretaker out of dire necessity. Mickey and I have very different upbringings, come from different cultures, and in many ways, are different people. But, we are united on a visceral level by our ingrained need to parent our parents - specifically, our fathers. In this way, I know this story is not unique to me: as women, we are all someone’s daughter. “Mickey and the Bear” is the necessary story of a daughter’s emancipation of the roles imposed upon her by her father, and the coinciding heartbreak that comes with leaving a parent behind.
Annabelle on location in Anaconda, Montana
In 2014, the NYU Deanâ€™s Award for Summer Research allowed me to spend a summer on the site of the film. I conducted visual and ethnographic research, compiling hundreds of hours of interviews and exploratory footage, which I continue to reference in the writing of the script. Though I came to town as an outsider, I earned the trust and respect of the local community - one that is very hard to break into. Since, I have remained close with many of the folks I met there, and have grown to think of Anaconda as my second home. I plan to shoot the film there, using actual locations written into the script and casting minor and background roles from the local talent pool.
Annabelle Attanasio, writer/director, as Mickey (on location at Anaconda High School, 2014).
HANK PECK Clive Owen Michael Shannon Ethan Hawke
WYATT HUGHES Keith Stanfield Ashton Sanders Devon Terrell
LESLEE WATKINS Allison Janney Rosemarie Dewitt Cara Seymour
ARON CHURCH Alex MacNicoll Gus Halper Ben Rosenfield
ANNABELLE ATTANASIO anactress actressand and ANNABELLE ATT ANASIO isisan filmmaker residing in Brooklyn, NY.AArecent recent filmmaker residing in Brooklyn, NY. graduate of NYU Gallatin and recipient five graduate of NYU Gallatin and recipient of of five production grants, Annabelle helmed short production grants, Annabelle hashas helmed sixsix short films plays a writer, director, actor, and films andand twotwo plays as aaswriter, director, actor, and producer. Her latest short, ”Frankie Keeps Talking”, producer. "Frankie Keeps Talking", her most recent is a feminist farce about the severity of frustration a short film, a feminist farce about the severity of woman feels when she goes on a date with a frustration a woman feels when she goes on a date with “manologuer”. It premiered at Santa Barbara a “manologuer”, currently submitted InternationalisFilm Festivalbeing this year. Annietois festivals worldwide. is committed making films committed to She making films thatto center around that center around stories of female empowerment. stories of female empowerment. Notable acting creditscredits includeinclude a recurring role inrole Steven Notable acting a recurring in Soderbergh’s Knick” (Cinemax), “Barry” ( TIFF Steven“The Soderbergh’s “The Knick” (Cinemax), 2016,“Barry” Netflix( TIFF Films’16, ) , and Netflix) currently, , and currently, a series regular a series role on She "Bull" She is a master role onregular "Bull" (CBS). is a(CBS). master student of Bob student of isBob Krakower, is represented by Krakower, and represented byand Rhonda Price at The RhondaGersh Price at The Gersh Agency. Agency. LinkKeeps to “Frankie Keeps Talking”: Link to “Frankie Talking”: vimeo.com/164993675 vimeo.com/164993675 password: frankie password: frankie
Contact Annabelle Attanasio Writer/Director AnnabelleAttanasio@gmail.com Lizzie Shapiro Producer Lizzie@SeeThink.com
Contacts Rhonda Price Theatrical Representation RPrice@GershNY.com Jennifer Konawal Manager JKBrady@WSFilms.com